Friday, June 19, 2009

What's Your Gygax Number?

a.k.a. Six Degrees to Gary's Game

This is a stupid little exercise inspired by today's xkcd strip, Paul Erdös and Kevin Bacon.

Here's how it works:

  • James Mishler once played an rpg with Gary Gygax. That's gives James a Gygax Number of 1.
  • I once played OD&D with James, but never played with Gary. That makes my Gygax Number 2.
  • If you have played an RPG with me, the biggest Gygax Number you can have is 3. For example, chgowiz and I played Labyrinth Lord together at my local con. Assuming he never played with Gygax or James, he would have a Gygax Number of 3 and the biggest Gygax Number his gaming buddies could have would be 4.
One time Gary played Mordenkainen in Arneson's Blackmoor campaign, meaning the biggest Arneson Number one could possibly have would be their Gygax Number +1.

With the linking criteria set as "played an rpg together" there will be people in the hobby to whom no Gygax Number can be assigned. Until I went to my first convention I couldn't possibly have a Gygax Number, as I started out as an isolated kid with a Basic set and my original play group all learned the game from me.

46 comments:

  1. I still don't understand that comic. :(

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  2. I have a Ken St. Andre number of 1, and that's all that matters. I can die happy.

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  3. All those mathematicians are eager to improve their Erdos number.

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  4. Ed, you should totally blog about the experience. Or maybe you haver and I need to read your archive?

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  5. Mine would be 1. :D

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  6. Mine's probably a 3 or something. The guy who runs the 4e game I'm in used to work for WotC in the 90s, and thus probably gamed with somebody who gamed with Gygax. Maybe.

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  7. I once played a game of Munchkin with Jon Pickens (former TSR employee, thanked in the Moldvay Basic red book). If that counts, it would put me at 2.

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  8. Jeff, I mentioned it here:

    http://esotericmurmurs.blogspot.com/2005/08/things-i-want-to-talk-about-from.html

    but all I said was: "HOLY CRAP I PLAYED TUNNELS AND TROLLS WITH KEN ST. ANDRE HIMSELF"

    Writing it up would be anticlimactic, cause it was a short game, made shorter by the fact that Joe (the other player -- it was just us two) and I came to the dungeon with an inappropriately new-school mindset.

    We were given a mission to go get something inside this dungeon, and we went and got it, and got out alive (barely) -- but the thing was, I realized later, that mission was just a MacGuffin, we failed to explore most of the dungeon because we managed to find our way to the goodies fairly quickly and get the hell out.

    That's probably why we survived, but it would have been more fun if we'd realized it was *about the damn dungeon,* not the mission, and taken more time to explore/loot/pillage.

    But you know what? I don't care, it was Ken St. Andre, whose games I've been playing since summer 1979 (if I reckon correctly), when I was a little kid. It's Goddamn awesome.

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  9. I'm a two or a three.

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  10. Bunch of lucky bast- er, um, I mean, if we assume that six is the highest, then my number would be six. But only because that's the highest, not because I have any proof that it's the right number. It's probably more like infinity...

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  11. I once played in a convention scenario GMed by Tracy Hickman. While I suspect that Hickman never played with Gygax, he probably has played with people who have, so that would give me a Gygax number of 3 (or maybe 4).

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  12. Mine is a 2. I've played with Jim Mishler and Frank Mentzer.

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  13. I think this is actually pretty interesting and could help explain some of the widely varying experiences amongst D&D players.

    I’m not sure if I’ll actually be able to get mine. I think it is at least >3.

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  14. All right so Dave Chalker (of Critical Hits) played with Gary Gygax at a Sci-Fi con he attended with his father.

    I DMed a game with Dave as a player. So that gives me a Gygax number of 2.

    yay!

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  15. Yep, as Chatty mentioned, I have a Gygax number of 1. This was a phone conversation I had with my dad about a year before I played with Gary:

    Dad: "I ran into Gary at the con."
    Me: "Gary? As in Gary Gygax?"
    Dad: "Yeah, we're old friends."
    Me: "You never told me you were friends with Gary Gygax!"
    Dad: "YOU NEVER ASKED!"

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  16. Anonymous1:00 PM

    XKCD always gives me great leads to cool things in Wikipedia. And here I find a blogger I read also reads XKCD and posted based on a comic. Cool.

    It seems like XKCD is turning into a bit of a hub.

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  17. One time Gary played Mordenkainen in Arneson's Blackmoor campaign, meaning the biggest Arneson Number one could possibly have would be their Gygax Number +1.

    I don't understand.

    If I played in a game with Dave, surely my Arneson number would be 1? And then my Gygax number would be 2.

    My old DM (actually, several of my old DMs) played with Dave at conventions or whatever (I never got to, more's the pity). So my Arneson number is 2, which makes my Gygax number 3.

    Still, not too shabby.



    Verification word: "flismses", which was what Gollum called the movies.

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  18. We had a "Gygax Number" argument years ago at a convention, but it was of the "Bacon Number" variety where it was about linking credits in RPG books ("Well, I did a book this summer with Scott Haring, and Scott Haring worked with ...")

    I like your system better, because gaming is something you either do or don't do, while being credited in an RPG book is actually a bit more slippery, especially in Gygax's case (which was the crux of the convention debate).

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  19. I'm estimating my number to be a 93 or 94.

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  20. I once gamed with someone, who gamed with Richard A. Knaak. But I don't know who he played with... Sadly I cannot continue... But maybe that's a start... :-)

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  21. Will, my point was that since Gygax and Arneson played together they are within one degree of seperation of each other. If you have not played with both of them, you Arneson Number and Gygax Number must be either N and N+1 or N and N-1.

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  22. Anonymous6:07 PM

    If you count online gaming then I'm a 2, otherwise I don't think I have a number...

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  23. Amazingly, my Gygax Index has a high probability of being as low as 6, despite the intervening Pacific Ocean.

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  24. Mine is 1. Sadly I met Gary for the first and last time less than 2 months before he died, and played in the last game of D&D he ever ran.

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  25. I am -maybe- a 6 but probably something much higher!

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  26. I can honestly say mine is like 100 or something. My opportunity is exceptionally limited and no one I know does the con circuit in any capacity.

    The best I can say is I PERSONALLY know at least 5 people credited in gaming books (including my spouse).

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  27. I once happened to PBM with Gary Holian, so my Gygax Number is his number+1... ;-)

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  28. You know, having expressed wholehearted approval for your superior method, Jeff, I still haven't a clear idea of what my GN might be :)

    I figure it would be almost _impossible_ for it to be higher than 4. 3 and 2 are likely numbers but I don't know which ... I mean, I've gamed with long-time industry luminary types (including two people who were writers and/or editors for TSR in the 80s) so I figure someone had to game with someone who gamed with someone somewhere in there ... but I dunno.

    Gygax and I were once scheduled to be on a panel together, but both of us bailed, and that wouldn't have been gaming anyway :)

    So, probably 2 or 3, maybe 4.

    But, much more importantly to me, my Sandy Petersen number is 2 :)

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  29. Mine is 2. I had by 3rd Edition PHB signed by Dave Arneson, who designed D&D with Gary Gygax.

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  30. Gary Gygax was in the Dungeons & Dragons movie with Bruce Payne, who was in Pyrates with Kevin Bacon.

    Kevin Bacon appeared in New York I Love You with Natalie Portman, who wrote a paper with Abigail A. Baird, who wrote one with M.S. Gazzaniga, who wrote one with JD Victor, who wrote one with J Gillis, who wrote one with Paul Erdos.

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  31. I suspect that I am "unrated". It is possible that someone I have gamed with gamed with somebody who gamed with... etcetera, but if so, I do not know about it.

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  32. Anonymous5:40 PM

    I suspect my Gygax number is somewhere in the region of five or six, maybe even four.

    While I live in Finland, I've played with loads of American and Canadian gamers who have been fairly active in the Living Greyhawk scene, which leads to them having played with a lot of different people, who in turn have played with a lot of different people. Gary must be somewhere in there.

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  34. 1: I gamed with Gary playing Gangbusters at one of my first cons. Never D&D, though :(

    My Rob Kuntz number is also 1, so my Arneson number is 2, as are my MAR Barker- and my Fritz Leiber/Harry Fischer numbers :D

    Allan.

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  36. Mine is 2. I had by 3rd Edition PHB signed by Dave Arneson, who designed D&D with Gary Gygax.

    If signatures count, then mine is a 2 as well. (Arneson once signed my OD&D books and Blackmoor supplement)

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  37. Anonymous11:54 AM

    Well I'll be, I've got a Gygax # of 2.

    One of my former gaming buddies played with Gary at a con and had nothing nice to say about the experience (he was a D20 zealot in the early days of 3.0), I wanted to punch him in the head (the former gaming bud not Gygax).

    - James D. Jarvis

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  38. I have a gygax # of 2 since I've played D&D with Dave Arneson twice. Which I guess makes my Arneson # a 1. Woot!

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  39. This kind of glory by association is kind of silly, don't you think? There must be hundreds of people with Gygax numbers of 1, and even more with St. Andre numbers that low. Let's see, I have Stafford, Jackson, Perrin and Loomis numbers of 1. Knew Arneson personally, but I don't think we ever got into a dungeon together. We did play poker one night. Does that count?
    --Ken St. Andre

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  40. Anonymous9:07 PM

    I think that was the point, Ken. Do feel free to pull that corncob out of your ass whenever you feel so inclined.

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  41. Mr. St. Andre: My point was to get people looking at all the cool people hooked up to each other in the weird network of the hobby. I chose Gygax and Arneson as likely crossroads in the relationship map. I'm interested in the social connections here more than the perceived status of any particular node.

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